Invasive Spiny Flea pollutes Lake Mendota in Wisconsin

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Invasive Spiny Flea pollutes Lake Mendota in Wisconsin

The great Lake Mendota in Wisconsin suffering tough times as an invasive spiny water flea is outnumbering the Daphnia flea. The spiny flea brought from Europe and Asia in cargo ships eats Daphnia flea. The flea is essential for keeping the lake water clean as it feeds on marine algae, resulting in better visibility and quality of lake water.

The reduced concentration of Daphina has intensified algae growth in the lake water. The water quality and visibility has been adversely impacted. The problem is concerning for both animals and humans alike. The spiny flea is causing a lot more damage than it was thought, according to author of a new study, Jake Walsh, a researcher at the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin.

Walsh added that there is need to address the damage to people in a simple way, which they can easily understand.

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Walsh with his team made models to estimate cost of reducing the level of algae that was earlier reduced by Daphnia flea naturally as part of life cycle. Algae grow with availability of phosphorous that enters the lake from various sources. To counteract algae overgrowth in Lake Mendota, there is need to reduce 71% reduction in phosphorous pollution in lake water. The efforts will cost an estimated $86.5 million to $163 million.

Researchers, including those involved with Walsh in the study, blame phosphorus for polluting and degrading the quality of lakes and reservoirs. The algae blooms can release toxins that are harmful to both humans and fish. The blooms even consume large amount of oxygen from water that make aquatic animals hard to survive.

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